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Taking a photo used to be quite the process. People would have to sit perfectly still for minutes at a time to have their likeness imprinted on a plate. It was a privilege for wealthy families, inaccessible to the lower class of the time.
Now, most people carry a high-quality camera with them every day in the form of a smartphone. It only takes a moment to snap a selfie and go about the day. But when does this practice cross the line into disturbing or addictive behavior?
Here’s what you need to know about taking selfies as an addiction, and how to recognize when you’ve crossed the line.
What is Selfie Addiction?
Selfie addiction is a new, yet a very real concern. Like any addiction, the condition known as selfitis is when someone becomes obsessed with action and can’t override the compulsion.
For some people, taking a selfie is a fun way to capture a moment or celebrate a good hair day. Other people end up taking numerous selfies throughout the day and creating an emotional connection to the responses they receive.
To better understand a selfie addiction, consider gambling. Some people will occasionally buy a lottery ticket or drop a few dollars in a slot machine on a special occasion. Other people spend all day at the VLTs and lose tens of thousands of dollars each year, putting their family in financial turmoil.
What’s the Danger of Selfie Addiction?
At a glance, selfie addictions seem fairly innocuous in comparison to alcoholism and gambling. However, there are dangers associated with this compulsion that can lead to deeper issues.
Selfie addictions often devolve into depression, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth, and even suicidal behavior.
There are still a lot of unknowns about selfie addiction and how it comes into existence. In many ways, it’s a chicken vs. egg situation in which people are left wondering, which comes first: the selfie addiction or the mental health issues?
Many experts believe the relationship between selfitis and mental health disorders to be cyclical in nature. Posting a selfie and getting a positive response creates a trigger of endorphins that offsets underlying feelings of anxiety and depression. Conversely, the struggle to take the perfect picture in which the person looks and feels great amidst self-esteem issues can exacerbate mental health issues.
The relationship between mental health and compulsive selfie-taking creates a negative feedback loop that can quickly become an exponentially devolving downward spiral.
How to Recognize Selfie Addiction
Posting a picture of yourself with friends with selfie hashtags can be perfect for celebrating time spent together. Posting photos of yourself on a good day and having captions is great for promoting self-love and sharing positive vibes.
So, when does taking selfies become problematic?
Here are four signs that your selfie-taking habits are crossing the line into an addiction:
#1 SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT IMPACTS YOUR MOOD
One of the driving forces behind selfitis is the need for validation. It’s not just the act of taking a selfie, but also how people respond to it. As previously mentioned, those likes and comments can trigger a release of endorphins that create a temporary mood-boosting effect.
However, what happens when you don’t get the engagement you expected?
One sign of an impending selfie addiction is equating likes and comments with your self-worth. When you don’t get enough engagement on your selfies and feel bad about it, that’s when things get problematic. This effect can lead to self-doubt and poor self-esteem.
#2 THE MAJORITY OF YOUR PHOTOS ARE SELFIES
Take a look at your social media profiles and camera roll. If more than half of your photos are selfies, it’s time to re-think your relationship with your smartphone and social media— as well as yourself.
Selfitis is often broken down into three levels of severity: borderline, acute, and chronic. People with borderline selfitis are characterized as taking numerous selfies, but not sharing them on social media. Acute selfie addicts post numerous selfies across social media platforms each day. Finally, those labeled as having chronic selfitis compulsively take and post selfies and continuously check on their engagement.
If you’re taking more than three selfies per day, you could be facing selfitis.
#3 YOU KEEP SNAPPING FOR THE PERFECT SHOT
There’s a misconception that people who compulsively take selfies are self-obsessed. Some believe this is a sign of narcissism and self-absorption. However, many experts are finding the opposite to be true.
People with low self-worth will often take numerous selfies to try and find the perfect shot. They’ll obsessively use angles and unrealistic filters to make themselves appear more attractive— to themselves and others. This behavior doesn’t stem from self-obsession, but rather from low self-worth. The constant struggle to find the perfect shot can lead to body dysmorphia, depression, and terrible self-esteem.
#4 YOU AREN’T PRESENT IN THE MOMENT
Finally, if taking selfies interferes with your day, you likely have selfitis. If you have your phone in hand and snap numerous selfies at events rather than being present in the moment, that’s the reason for concern.
Keep in mind that dozens of people die each year taking selfies because they aren’t aware of their surroundings. If all of your memories of a special event are selfie-taking, you aren’t present in the moment.
Treating Selfie Addiction
The fact that some people become addicted to taking selfies doesn’t mean that no one should engage in the practice. However, it’s important to become self-aware and identify when there’s a problem.
There are a few approaches to treating selfie addictions. It’s worth engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to dive into the underlying factors leading to the addiction. Focusing on building a healthy relationship with your body and developing your sense of self-worth and self-esteem is crucial.
If you notice that you’re engaging in obsessive selfie-taking behaviors, set limits for yourself. Leave the phone at home or in the car during a special event. Reach out to others to ask to take photos of you with a group. There are many ways to work around a selfie addiction and look beyond the lense when determining your value.
About the Author:
Ashley Lipman is an award-winning writer who discovered her passion for providing knowledge to readers worldwide on topics closest to her heart – all things digital. Since her first high school award in Creative Writing, she continues to deliver awesome content through various niches touching the digital sphere.